A common myth about the relationship between facts and values may be hampering our discussions of ethics
Massimo, I agree that Hume likely means the gap can between “ought” and “is” can be bridged. I need to examine this all again. Hume was the first philosopher who really impressed me in my undergraduate years in the early 80’s. I recall after studying the “Rationalist” and the “Empiricists” during the Renaissance that Hume was my favorite. Great essay. 👍
Thank you for your post. I'm surprised that you put Micheal Sherman on the same level as Harris as i have read few of Micheal books and even if the old onse had libertarian flavor the new one are quite based in facts without declaring _objective_ rules.
Deviant, I would say anything that makes one act in a way that knowingly causes harm to another for personal comfort and security. Such as spreading rumours about another because you assume to be threatened, selling drugs, harming children, or stealing from the elderly, maybe even revenge could be considered such as well when it is inspired by unwitting actions of another (ex.drunkenness).
As for Euthyphor’s father, as much as was written, he bound the man and confined him to his death unwittingly. So how much of the following is grasping at straws?
What is: Society that values slavery or dependence for purpose of maintaining a stable workforce. To keep order and everyones place it could be justifiable to kill a dependent who cause damage to property. So the father ought to set harsh punishment in order to maintain order and not cause further damage, set example.
In other way
A person ought to maintain sense of fairness and temperance for purpose of human flourishing - cooperation causing survivability, gaining advantage over nature....and at this point I have a hard time to think of what is - in other words the cause of fairness and temperance(in empirical evidence) to a man who lived at the time of slavery. So I think, that is why you might say its best left for the Athenian courts?
Your essay has expanded my perspective on what it means to derive moral oughtness from what is. Thanks!
1) Could the logic that derives moral oughtness for Stoicism from what ‘is’ be applicable to deriving moral oughtness for “morality as cooperation” as described below?
2) Could ethical naturalism sensibly have an objective part from the science of morality in addition to a subjective part from moral philosophy such as Stoicism?
3) How much more is there to the logic that derives moral oughtness for Stoicism from what ‘is’ than just instrumental oughts (as I read “conditional imperatives”)?
The version of “morality as cooperation” I prefer includes the claim:
“Cultural moral norms are components of cooperation strategies.”
This hypothesis appears to explain all, or virtually all, past and present cultural moral norms no matter how diverse, contradictory, or strange to outsiders. It is arguably objectively true in the normal provisional scientific sense based primarily on explanatory power, simplicity, lack of contradiction with known facts, and so forth.
This hypothesis is also directly culturally useful for resolving many disputes about when and if specific moral norms will be advocated based on both 1) its explanatory power for all that diversity, contradictions and strangeness which otherwise are only mysteries and 2) its instrumental oughtness as a means for achieving shared goals by increasing cooperation.
Then as you say about ethical naturalism: “The basic idea is that ethics is about figuring out ways to live and thrive together with other human beings, and that it is rooted in natural feelings of prosociality that we are born with because we are social animals.”
And morality as cooperation answers the science of morality’s primary question “Why do our moral sense and cultural moral norms exist and how to they work?” So shouldn’t morality as cooperation be a central part of ethical naturalism?
Ok clearly I keep losing track of the argument, as I think about what would be the proper order, facts then values or vice versa, to start bridging the two.
Would the order make a difference to weather deviant behaviour be considered ethical? Was Euthyphro’s father just to knowingly cause suffering?
Thank you for the nugget!
My intuitive thought inspired from your post is that weather the ‘what is’’, can only be glimpsed by that which is eternal and ever present, and the ‘ought’ approach is human mind guessing on how to spend their limited time of awareness - maximizing ease, comfort, and security over possible glimpses of what might be achievable and practical. Which makes me think, morality ought to be something that as a race strives towards the empirical answers for what is moral, but as values differ, should be from the starting point of ‘what ought’, with hope that subsequent curious mind can further prove of disprove ‘what is’.
So really my questions: Is it sound to inquire further on an idea that what is can be derived from the ought? As oppose to the what ought from what is as you have stated is not sound.
Such as the following thought: social morality should have an element of piety (as defined by the ancients, as I understand, is through the taking care of the past(parents) and future(kids). Again intuitively, seems to be the right way to transcend our human limitation of time.